VQDM Interview with Mattias IA Eklundh
VQDM: Thank you so much for your time! You are such a unique guitarist with a sound like no other! For those just meeting you with this interview. Where did that sound come from and tell us how Freak Kitchen came to be :)
IA: Thank you for your kind words. I think I started to find out who I was and how to get that through in my playing during all those hours in my teenage bedroom. I quit school when I was sixteen and practiced a lot, sometimes ten hours a day. The best thing I did, I believe, was to record myself on a crappy tape recorder. Listening back is something very different to the actual playing (where you usually think you are amazing when it may not be the case at all). Discovering loads and loads of influences from my guitar heroes shining through way too much I consciously tried to refine my style, little by little. It took many years and I am still working on it, needless to say.
Freak Kitchen was formed in 1992. I moved back from Copenhagen, where I lived for three years being a member of the band Fate, and was super duper eager to do something of my own, to have my own band.
VQDM: What made you choose the path you are all on now, compared to what your parents wanted you to do and what age did you know this is what I want to do? ( first guitar )
IA: Compared to so many other parents, mine have always been extremely supportive of my choice of profession. This has helped a lot, of course, as so many of my friends starting out with the same ambition and goals as me caved in along the way due to pressure from mom and dad to get a "real job". Oh dear, if anyone ever knew how much work musicians actually put into their trade... Very few on this planet would put up with working conditions of a touring band, I tell you that. However, the love for your music and the audience, taking it away together as one unit on stage makes it all worth it.
I knew I was going to do what I have done professionally for 28 years since I was around six when I got my first band together. Begun with the drums but could always play a few power chords alright enough to write (primitive) tunes. KISS and AC/DC started it all. Hearing and seeing Frank Zappa for the first time when I was eleven screwed up quite a bit, in a good way.
VQDM: What do you like most about being in this profession?
IA: I am flabbergasted on a daily basis it actually goes as well as it does, that I am able, only through my own music, to provide a comfortable life for my family. I have built this very slow but quite steady, meaning there is always somewhere on Earth where things go your way and you can tour and/or do clinics. To be able to travel all over the place, perform your home brewed (somewhat strange) songs and get paid for it is not something I take for granted. What I dig the most, compared to so many other jobs, is that I am in charge of my time. Time is the only true capital and what we do with it is essential. Every day matters.
VQDM: Where do you all go when your on stage, do you have a different mind set?
IA: With Freak Kitchen we are so pumped up and energetic on stage, giving our utmost. We have no choice but to whip ourselves up to a slightly insane state of mind because the songs require it or else we can't play them convincingly. It is us against the world every night. Despite being middle age men we still feel like teenagers when we walk out there. It's such a constructive part of life performing together. I love this band.
VQDM: What stands out the most in all that you have done in your music career?
IA: It depends... Musically I think the most strange stuff I have recorded is my first solo album called Sensually Primitive by my alter ego Mr. Libido. Still, very few people have heard it (no guitar whatsoever). Visually it is by far Juanjo Guarnido's stunning, animated video to Freak of the Week from the latest record. My personal favorites are always the songs I am currently working on.
VQDM: what inspires any of you when you go to write or jam?
IA: Everyday life. I usually build things up for a while and then let it all out. It can be anything from a racist pig neighbor to being stuck in Molotov cocktail inferno in New Delhi.
VQDM-What is the worst onstage mishap you have experienced?
IA: I think when our lovely drummer Björn got fried on stage from bad grounding in Copenhagen many years ago. He literally flew backwards from a severe electric shock, pulled the backdrop down during the short flight and ended with his feet up and head down behind the drum riser. Oh dear, that was a close call. After a little heart massage and overall health check backstage he played everything twice as fast, haha!
VQDM: Times in the industry have changed quite a lot from show production to promotion aspects. Do you feel that things have gotten easier for artist to self-promote or has it become more of a challenge, even with all of the technology since you first started?
IA: I would say both. All the various platforms like social media makes it fairly easy to set things up. The problem is everyone is looking for attention and instant gratification. Likes is the new high. There is an ooze of desperation in the industry and among artists. If you don't post like crazy, even if you got nothing to say, you're dead.
However, I adore new technology if used right and find it extremely stimulating that I can edit pretty groovy HD footage in whatever hotel room and throw it out there instantly when done. I have also slowly begun to see the many advantages of digital download. Money being one of them. We have spent such an insane amount of doe over the years shipping physical products. There is surprisingly groovy outcome from iTunes and such. We will still continue to make CDs and LPs. I adore the album format, having something real in your hands that you have busted your butt to make come to life. Best of both worlds.
VQDM: In Sweden compared to the states, what is your opinion has been the biggest change in the industry in the last 20 years from?
IA: Swedes still buy physical albums, metal fans especially. On the other hand we invented Spotify. You still get decent fees for gigs. In the US, being such a vast country, it's hard to make any real money from touring. At least for a humble little pagan band from Scandinavia. Festivals are the best thing for us in America; more people, better conditions.
The industry is in a constant change everywhere. In many ways I find it exiting times, especially since things cooled down a bit after the initial download and streaming panic when stuff like Napster appeared on the radar. A lot of bands complain, wine, refuse to adjust and therefore face a slow, quiet death.
VQDM: When did Freak Camp begin and where did the inspiration come from to start it?
IA: It wasn't even my idea from the start. I didn't believe in it at all but a guitar student's dad was very persistent and presented a logistic solution to it all so I decided to give it a try. That was some seventeen years ago. Boy, was I proven wrong!
The Freak Guitar Camp is my annual highlight and I adore spending time with all these tremendous players, so eager to learn, in the beautiful countryside of Sweden. I am honored to be able to do it and very grateful that I have this channel to go extremely deep into music and guitar playing outside the box. Looking forward a great deal to the upcoming, 18th camp next August.
VQDM: If you hadn't been born in this century, when and where would you have liked to have lived?
IA: I guess I would have lived on the island of Gotland in the 9th century and spent my days writing bad Viking jokes on runestones.
VQDM: what advice would you give a up and coming musicians?
IA: To play music because you have an inner drive to do it. Never to seek quick, temporary attention. Always grow your own moustache, as I put it, and try to refine your style and who you are. Doing this, you will build a global following, little by little. Staying true to yourself also means staying true to your audience.
VQDM: what can we look for in 2016 from you?
IA: There is a new Freak Kitchen record in the works that we have to put out late next year. There is also another project I am involved with together with two colleagues and friends that I hope will result in a record as well. I plan to travel with my guitar, hopefully set up another Freak Guitar Camp in India in November along the original camp in Sweden. I am involved in an animated movie and hope all falls into place with it so I can start writing a score for it. A buddy of mine and I am also starting a clothing company called No Bull Stuff, NOBS, with a 100% organic clothes featuring the cow from the Freak Kitchen album covers. I will be busy!